I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe ECT, and since it’s such a bizzaro procedure that everyone experiences differently, I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. But I guess really, between the memory loss and the other ECT effects, it’s not going to be perfect. It’s just going to be my experience of my experience.
When I started the “acute” phase in February, I was going in three days a week (M/W/F). That entire section of time is completely gone from my memory. I used to think that I had some memories, but I realized that was just remembering seeing photos on my phone from that time period. That’s a story for another day. This is about the actual ETC procedure.
So it started with three days/week, which lasted about two and a half months. Then we stretched it out to once a week. Then once every two weeks. Then three, and now we’re at four. The ultimate goal is six weeks apart, but that depends on some stuff that I’ll write about later.
But that’s not what you’re here for. You want to know what the ECT process is like, for the patient. If you’re not, I don’t know what to tell you…go to Buzzfeed or something?
So here’s the process:
I get there at 7:15, for my 7:30 appointment. The nurses like me, (I assume- at the least, they interact with me more) because I seem to be one of the more coherent patients in L3. They send me to an open room (designated by letter, not number), and I kick back on a hospital bed that has the same brand pee pad on it that I use for Elly. I guess they don’t trust that we haven’t had a drink since midnight.
A nurse comes in. It’s usually Nurse R., who is a fantastic phlebotomist, who always says “now don’t cry”, to which I respond “I won’t if you won’t.” We both fake laugh. He takes my temperature and writes it on my IV tape. Then he wraps a blood pressure cuff around my non-stuck arm. I lie there until it’s my turn to go in, taking in saline solution.
They wheel me into the procedure room, which has a vinyl curtain that gets nearly closed as soon as I’m settled. There are what looks like 80’s era computer behind me, which are the machine that will give my brain target seizures.. A nurse sticks a bunch of stickies on me that help monitor my heart rate. Then my forehead gets wiped with alcohol (you need extra because you’re greasy- Nurse R, last week) and sticky pads are placed on my temples, forehead, and behind my ears. Then what look like the tiniest jumper cables are attached to the pads, and I know things are about to get started.
Depending on who the anesthesiologist is, it’s either a guy who looks like Jesse Williams who puts an oxygen mask on my face as he injects ALL the drugs, or the woman who places the mask on me and says “time to go to sleep” which is creepy as fuck.
And then there are about three seconds of oblivion in which everything is just fine. And then I’m out.